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ASHLAND – Masks will be option in the Ashland Public Schools starting Monday, March 7.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education has called for the mask mandate in schools to be lifted on Monday, February 28, following the traditional February school vacation week in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Masking continues to be required on all school buses, per a federal order.

And the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Massachusetts Department of Public Health strongly recommend that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear masks in school settings.

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“Last evening, the Ashland School Committee approved my recommendation to allow all schools to move to a mask-optional environment beginning Monday, March 7, 2022. Because we have previously seen an uptick in cases after returning from holiday breaks, this date was chosen out of an abundance of caution, in consultation with our nursing staff, to allow a week to pass after the February break,” wrote Superintendent of Schools Jim Adams to families today, February 18.

“We also strongly encourage those who are unvaccinated, immune-compromised or living with someone immune-compromised to continue to wear masks in indoor public settings. No matter their decision, we will support all staff and students whether they choose to wear or not wear masks, and we will not tolerate anyone being mistreated because of their personal choice,” wrote Supt. Adams.

But the Ashland Superintendent of Schools is recommending “Before returning from break, we recommend all students, faculty and staff take an at-home antigen test on Sunday, February 27, and again on Tuesday, March 1.”

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 Test kits have been distributed to at-home testing program participants.

For nonparticipants, please click here for a list of low or no-cost COVID-19 test options. Any positive test results must be reported to your school nurse.

“According to the amended policy and federal and state guidelines regarding face coverings, the following public health protocols will remain in place for each building:ALL passengers on school transportation will be required to wear a face covering.Anyone utilizing the health office will be required to wear a face covering.Direct service providers that fall into the medical profession category should continue to follow DPH’s guidance, which may include wearing a face covering and requiring a student to wear a face-covering during service hours. Service providers will indicate to families their individual approach.Students and staff returning from 5-day quarantine following a positive COVID test must follow strict mask use, other than when eating, drinking, or outside, and conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 10 of exposure. If students or staff members cannot wear a face covering for days 6-10, they will need to continue with their quarantine through day 10,” wrote the superintendent to families.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.